Strive for progress, not perfection

journal posted on strong-woman.comIs it really okay to be less than perfect when you’re working toward a goal? Like when you’re ready to take better care of yourself and improve your confidence and overall happiness. You may commit to eating more nutritious food, exercising more consistently, practicing daily gratitude, journaling, or any number of other healthy activities.

They’re simple, but not easy.

So many distractions, it’s hard to stay committed. Why bother trying?

This is when it’s most important to strive for progress, not perfection. When you feel like giving up, remind yourself that:

You must act. You can’t make progress without taking action. Even if you’re not sure you can reach your goal, do what you can and start small if you have to.  It’s harder to get started when you expect yourself to be perfect.

No one’s perfect. What you don’t want to do is say, “Well, I already blew it today because I was ‘bad’ this morning, so what the heck? I might as well eat this pint of ice cream.” Moderation is the key. Every moment’s a chance to re-commit to make healthy choices. 

Take care of yourself posted on strong-woman.com

Keep moving forward. No one’s perfect. Small changes made consistently add up to results. Even the most disciplined people skip a workout sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up. Get back on track and keep at it.

Be okay with good enough. Aspiring for perfection has a way of keeping us from taking action, of getting started. If your goal is to work out 4 times this week and you only get in 2 workouts because “life got in the way”, it’s okay. 2 workouts is better than 0 workouts. Tomorrow’s another day to get back at it!

Be patient. Progress will come as long as you’re taking steps in the direction of what you desire. Focus on progress and it’ll be easier to keep moving forward.

Laughing baby.

Remember why you started. When you’re striving for progress, the end goal can get buried under disappointing setbacks. Keep your goal in mind and do it for yourself and your own health and happiness. Re-commit and repeat as needed.

Lighten up. Have fun along the way. Don’t be so serious. (Ahem.) When nothing short of perfection is acceptable, it’s hard to have fun.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Do what you can every day, even if it’s something very small, to improve your health and happiness.

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Why has the FDA Banned Antibacterial Soap?

If a little is good, then more is better, right?

In a case where more is not always better, the Food and Drug Administration recommend conventional soap and water over antibacterial soaps.

In September 2016, the FDA ruled that some anti bacterial agents in soaps, hand gels, bar soaps, body washes, and other products will not longer be able to be marketed, so is banning “certain active ingredients”, such as triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps).Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Manufacturers will have one year to comply with the ban.

But wait! Isn’t killing bacteria a good thing?

Why would the FDA ban antibacterial soap?

According to the FDA Consumer Updates,

The FDA has been looking at for years. The issue?  Ingredients found in anti-bacterial products could be a factor in creating “bacterial resistance and hormonal effects”.

They gave manufacturers time to provide data on the safety and effectiveness of ingredients, which the manufacturers failed to do.

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”

What kind of harm?

Smithsonian.com’s article, Five Reasons Why You Should Probably Stop Using Antibacterial Soap lists potentially harmful effects as:

  1. Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than conventional soap and water
  2. Contributing to antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as MRSA
  3. Potential to disrupt the body’s hormone regulation
  4. Could contribute to other health problems, such as allergies
  5. Bad for the environment

The current ruling applies only to soaps and not to hand-sanitizers at this time.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

According to FDA:

This final rule applies to consumer antiseptic wash products containing one or more of 19 specific active ingredients, including the most commonly used ingredients – triclosan and triclocarban. …  This rule does not affect consumer hand “sanitizers” or wipes, or antibacterial products used in health care settings.

States may begin taking action to limit anti-bacterial products as well.

In 2014, cbsnews.com published an article, Minnesota becoming first state to ban common germ-killer triclosan in soap, reporting the first state ban. Minnesota became the first state to ban triclosan, which is also used in some toothpastes, cosmetics, and body washes. The ban took effect January 1, 2017.

What’s the best thing to keep you and your family safe?

According to and FDA press announcement:

Washing with plain soap and running water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others. If soap and water are not available and a consumer uses hand sanitizer instead, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that it be an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

As always, read labels to make the best choice for keeping you healthy, well, and strong.

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How to Start Eating Healthy and Stick to It

Years ago, I struggled with several health concerns, including having a very tough time losing weight. I was frustrated and confused because I was physically active at that time – worked out regularly – and it seemed like I was always training for some event, like a half-marathon or sprint triathlon.

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But when I realized how nutrition was impacting my health, I knew had a lot to learn. I tried all the nutrition hacks I could find, like low carb, no white stuff (rice, bread, sugar), eat breakfast, don’t eat breakfast, nutrition pyramid, etc.

Nothing helped very much and I was frustrated with my results. I thought something was wrong with me and that maybe my body just wanted to carry that extra weight. Or maybe I was just weak and lacked will power.

Then I realized that one of the reasons I didn’t have long-term success was because I hadn’t found what works for me, not just to lose weight, but for overall better health.

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That’s when I learned that some nutrition and inflammation and that, for whatever reason, some types of food aren’t good for me. I also learned about the glycemic index and how eating low glycemic food can help me lose weight. (Read Use Low Glycemic Approach to Lose Weight and Keep It Off for more information.)

Finally!

There’s a lot of confusion about what works best when you’re trying to eat healthy. Should you have fat or not have fat?

Is sugar really that bad for you?

What about breakfast? I heard the old saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” is a myth. Is it?

If you’re ready to start eating healthy and want some direction, here are 5 easy steps to get started.

Find what works for you.

The saying goes: The best diet is the one you can stick to.

We’re all different so what works for you may not work for me. And vice-versa.

Do you have to stay away from bread? For me, whole grains like quinoa and steel cut oats are okay for me, but most other grains aren’t. You may be fine with most grains.

Should you eat breakfast or skip it? Some people, like my husband, practice “intermittent fasting” and skip breakfast. It works for them. If I skip breakfast, I feel ravenous and tend to eat more or whatever’s on hand.

Should you snack or not? For me, small snacks throughout the day help keep me from getting over-hungry and helps me stay on track.

Is dairy okay? For some people even a little dairy is too much.

Is low-carb a good option? If you like fruits and vegetables, low carb is probably not going to be the best option for you.

For more information, go to webmd.com’s 10 Tips for Finding the Best Diet That Works for You

Practice portion control.

A couple of tricks to keep portions reasonable:

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Use a smaller bowl/plate.

Use a small spoon.

When at home, keep extra food away from the table so second helpings aren’t as convenient.

When eating out:

Share an entree with a friend.

Pack half your entree in a to-go container.

Make water your drink of choice.photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Energy drinks, fruit drinks, alcohol, and sweet and creamy coffee drinks often have little nutrition and lots of added sugar. If you choose to indulge, stick with the small size.

Unsweetened tea or coffee or fruit-infused water are good options.

Eat mindfully.

Fast eating usually means unsatisfied eating. like when you’re eating so fast you don’t even remember what you ate?

Take your time and eat slowly. This is a lot easier to do if you’re not over-hungry.

Learn about food labels.

The simple way to read a food label is to look at the ingredients.

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Watch for added sugar and make the best choice you can. For more information about food labels, read How to Read a Food Label

We’re all different. What works for some people may not work for you.

It may be helpful to keep a food journal so you can note how certain foods make you feel. Which food leave you feeling satisfied and which leave you hungry right away.

It takes trial and error, but it’s well worth the effort when you discover which foods help you feel healthy and well instead of sick and worn out.

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(Video) Improve your health and happiness

 

A few years ago I learned something that shifted my attitude about the connection between good health and food.

The Health-Nutrition Connection

It started when I caught Dr. Mark Hyman on television talking about his book, The Blood Sugar Solution. At the time, I wasn’t feeling well. I had digestive issues, pre-diabetes symptoms, menopausal symptoms, rosacea, low energy, and more.

In his discussion that Sunday afternoon, Dr. Hyman said (in a nutshell) that improving nutrition improves health and that people (like me) are unknowingly eating food that’s causing inflammation and making them (me) sick.

Weight loss photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

 

I was skeptical, but wanted to learn more, so I bought The Blood Sugar Solution. And soon after incorporating a few of Dr. Hyman’s recommendations, I felt better. My symptoms improved almost immediately.

To read more about my experience and what I learned, read “Nutrition and Inflammation – How Are They Related and Why Should I Care?

An Interview with Dr. Mark Hyman

Today, I’m sharing a video of one of my favorite people online, Marie Forleo,  interviewing Dr. Hyman.

If you’re not familiar with Marie, I highly recommend you check out her work. She is “An entrepreneur, writer, philanthropist, and unshakable optimist dedicated to helping you become the person you most want to be.” From Marie’s “About” page at marieforleo.com 

I hope you take the time to watch or listen to the interview if you’re interested in learning a few simple ways to improve your health.

You may be doubtful, about Dr. Hyman’s message, about the idea that food you eat every day can be making you sick. I was certainly skeptical about his message.

I thought, “Certainly food companies aren’t allowed to sell products that make people sick.”  I thought I was protected.

But now I know that’s just not true.

Click here to read more about the interview and watch/listen to the segment on MarieTV.

Or watch/listen to the 30-minute video here:

 

Especially as we age, eating good food becomes critical to feeling well and strong. I encourage you to watch/listen with an open mind and an open heart. Dr. Hyman inspired me take control of my health and it could do the same for you or some one you love.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you’ve heard. Feel free to share in the comments.

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Did you gain weight over the holidays? You’re not alone.

If you gained weight over the holidays, you’re not alone. Studies show that most people tend to gain at least a couple of pounds.

Actually, I’ve been a little lax since Thanksgiving, and when Christmas rolled around I showed no restraint.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com
Holiday indulgence.
I ate what I wanted for 2 weeks over the holidays and here’s what I learned.
  • 5 pounds makes a difference. I can feel it. If it makes a difference when I gain it, it’ll make a difference when I lose it.
  • I’m an “all or nothing” kind of person. I have a hard time with just a little bit. Does that say something negative about my character? Maybe. All I know is that once I start, it’s really hard for me to stop.

(My husband’s an “everything in moderation” kind of person. He can be eating something delicious and just say, “I’m done.” And stop eating. It’s fascinating.)

  • Sugar is a problem for me. The more I have, the more I want. I guess that’s true for most people.

Sugar photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Time to put on the brakes

I want to get back to eating nutritious food and lose the weight I gained because I don’t feel my best carrying this extra 5 – 6 …okay 7 pounds.

And the other thing is, this is how it starts for me. If I don’t put the brakes on now, it’s only a matter of time before I’ll have gained a lot more. I don’t want that. (Read more about my yo-yo weight here.)

My plan of action to lose this holiday weight:

  • Keep a food journal. This really helps. And now there are mobile apps that I find a lot more convenient than keeping a notebook. I use MyFitnessPal, but if you’d like to find out about others, read The Best Nutrition Apps of 2016 for a comparison.
  • Minimize sugar and processed carbs, like crackers and tortilla chips (one of my weaknesses).
  • Eat more vegetables, preferably raw. They’re rich in nutrients and fiber.
  • Eat breakfast. Sometimes I get busy and before I know it, it’s time for lunch, but by then I’m really hungry. I do much better when I eat breakfast.
  • Drink water throughout the day and especially before meals.
  • Avoid getting over-hungry by eating small meals and snacks throughout the day and make some of those raw vegetables, like carrots, grape tomatoes, or cut up vegetables.
  • Re-visit my “why”. Clarifying the bare bones motivation for me to lose the weight I’ve gained and get back on track is really important. I’m a rationalization queen. I can reason away 7 pounds in my sleep and be quite alright with it in the morning. But the truth is, I don’t feel my best and that’s reason enough for me to get clear on my “why”. 

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My goal is to age well, to be strong and fit well into my 70s and 80s, if I’m fortunate to live that long. I wish to travel lightly though life, not only by having a heart of gratitude and forgiveness, but by living and acting as if I eat to live, not live to eat.

I want food to help sustain my health, not bring me down. 

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t easy for most of people. It’s like life. There’ll be ups and downs. Time to re-focus and re-commit.

And truly, in the big picture, with all that’s going on in the world, it doesn’t matter how much I weigh. Except that, I have work to do and I’m better able to do it when I feel my best: healthy, strong, and happy.

How did you do over the holidays? Did you gain a couple or a few pounds? Maybe you lost weight. I’d love to hear your take. Please post in the comments below.

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How to Set SMART Goals and Make Your New Year’s Resolutions stick

As the end of 2016 quickly approaches, there’s more talk about New Year’s resolutions and setting goals for 2017.

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A common approach for setting goals is to set SMART goals.

What’s a SMART goal?

SMART is an acronym for

S – specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – reasonable

T – time specific

Setting SMART goals is a simple way to set goals in any area of your life, such as fitness, health, finances, professional, personal, family, etc.

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Here’s an example of a SMART goal:

I want to lose 5 pounds by Valentines Day 2017.

Specific – Lose 5 pounds

Measurable – Get on the scale and current weight minus 5

Attainable – Valentines Day is February 14 so that’s 6 weeks from January 1 so that would be slightly less than a pound a week. Yep. That’s attainable.

Reasonable – A pound a week seems reasonable

Time Specific – February 14 is my end date

Even if you’re long term goal is to lose 50 pounds, meeting short incremental goals like this will add up. So in mid-February, plan on setting another goal:

I want to lose 5 pounds by March 30, 2017.

If you were to stay on that course for the year, by the end of the year, you’ll have lost more than 40 pounds. That’s significant!

Here’s an example of a Non-SMART goal:

I want to lose weight in 2017

“lose weight” isn’t specific enough and 2017 doesn’t make it a timely goal.

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Here’s an example of a SMART goal in the area of personal finances:

I want to pay off a $1000 credit card balance by June 2017.

S – The specific goal is to ay off a balance of $1000, taking into account interest and other charges

M – It’s measurable because by June 1, 2017 I’ll either have a balance or not.

A – Is it attainable? Come up with an action plan so you can decide if you need to adjust your goal.

Realistic – Creating a plan of action will help you decide if it’s a realistic goal.

Time Specific – June 1, 2017 is specific.

Also not a SMART goal.

I want to get a new job and make more money.


Yogi Berra once famously said:
If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.

Yogi Berra

When setting goals, it’s important to write them down and not keep them floating around in your head. The process of writing them out helps make them real so you’re more likely to commit to them.

Set goals for things you’re ready to work for and not things that you wish would happen. Focus on areas of your life you’re ready to improve and that are really important to you.

Once you’ve got your goals set, come up with a plan to reach them. There are a ton of people and resources to guide you if you need help. Remember to take it a little at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.

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Reflect on the past year as you look forward

As you look forward to the new year, also take some time to reflect on the past year. What were some good experiences? S

ome not so good things? What did you do that you loved? How did you overcome a challenge? How did that make you feel?

Remember that the negative tends to stick out in our minds and the good stuff tends to blend into the background. Look at pictures from the past year to help jog your memory. When you look at the tough times, think about how you handled it, how you got through it, and what you learned.

I hope you accomplish all your goals in 2017 and that it turns out to be a fantastic year for you.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog. I’m truly grateful for time and attention.

Blessings!

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10 Things to Do to Keep You Healthy and Happy Through the Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It can also be overwhelming and stressful, making it a challenge to stay happy and healthy. As always, it’s important to do what you can to take care of yourself so you can be your best.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com
Stay healthy and happy this holiday season.

Here are 10 things to do to help you stay healthy and happy through the holiday season:

1. Get moving

Do what you can to get your body moving. If you track your steps, shoot for at least 10,000 steps a day. Or get outdoors and go for a walk or run. Get active by going for a bike ride, Or ski, bowl, hike, golf, Frisbee, Frisbee golf, dance, go to a workout class – whatever.

Some of the benefits of exercise – helps relieve stress by lowering cortisol, the stress hormone, and increasing endorphins, the feel-good hormone. Equalizes hormone levels.

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Get moving.
2. Take 3 minutes

Start your day with at least 3 minutes of quiet time. Yes, you’re busy, but investing at least 3 minutes every morning will help put you in a positive state of mind and set the course for your day. Use the time for light stretching, deep breathing, positive encouragement, silent prayer, or just silence.

3. Smile

You’ve probably heard the phrase: Fake it ’til you make it. What’s really cool about fake smiling is that your brain doesn’t know you’re faking your smile. You’re smiling. That’s it. The action sends a signal to your brain that you’re okay – guess what? – you feel okay, maybe even a little happier. It’s like magic. So especially when you don’t really feel like it, smile.

4. Laugh

Fake laughing follows the same principal as fake smiling in helping you feel happy. Laughing is a little less convenient because for some reason it’s not normal to just bust out laughing for no reason.

Our bodies are such amazing creations and the mind-body connection is real. You may have heard of studies that use laughter yoga for pain management. It works. So when you feel a little stressed, laugh like Santa Claus “ho ho ho” and then throw in a “ha ha ha”. Repeat. Get a friend to join you for double the laughs.

5. Hydrate

Drinking water is so important to keep you feeling your best. Busy holiday schedules tend to disrupt healthy habits so keep a glass of water at hand and drink up. How much water should you be drinking? What’s usually recommended is half your body weight in ounces, more if you’re sweating.

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Hydrate
6. Limit Alcohol

While water helps hydrate, alcohol dehydrates. Studies released in the past few years make headlines when they shout, “Hey, doctors say wine’s good for you!” Those same studies recommend limiting alcohol to one serving a day for women, two servings a day for men. One serving is of wine is 4 – 5 ounces. To put it in perspective, that’s slightly more that half a cup.

7. Eat healthy

Keep it as simple as you can. Eat more vegetables, limit sugar, and control portions. Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day so you don’t get over-hungry and you’re able to be more mindful of your food choices. Read more suggestions about making good food choices at Take Care of Your Body.

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Choose healthy snacks.
8. Sleep

It’s a hectic time, but sleep is the time when you’re body re-charges and rejuvenates. Schedule your sleep time and do your best to stick with it. Try shutting down electronic devices, including phones, tablets, televisions, an hour before your scheduled bedtime. The blue light in electronics is thought to inhibit the sleep hormone, melatonin, making it harder for you to get to sleep.

9. Give up on perfection

Those Christmas specials and holiday commercials don’t seem real – the ones where homes are perfect, the holiday table looks beautiful, the turkey is roasted to golden perfection, and there’s a brand new luxury car in the driveway. If it works out that way, excellent! But if it works out like the dinner in A Christmas Story where the turkey winds up on the floor and the family ends up going out for Chinese food, that’s okay too.

10. Have a heart of gratitude

As always, and especially when life gets hectic, have a heart of gratitude. When you consciously recognize the people and things you’re grateful for, it helps take the edge off and so you don’t sweat the small stuff.

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Have a heart of gratitude.

Those are the 10 things to do to help keep you happy and healthy through the holidays:

  1. Get moving
  2. Take 3 minutes
  3. Smile
  4. Laugh
  5. Hydrate
  6. Limit alcohol
  7. Eat healthy
  8. Sleep
  9. Give up on perfection
  10. Have a heart of gratitude

Keep your health and happiness on your list of things to do this holiday season. Finish 2016 strong and be ready to welcome a new year feeling strong and happy.

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A Healthy Lifestyle and Breast Cancer Risk

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink ribbons, special “pink” events, and all levels of athletic teams – little league to professional – wear pink to promote breast cancer awareness every October.

Breast Cancer Ribbon - Breast Cancer Awareness Symbol
Breast Cancer Ribbon – Symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Hopefully, the pink reminders start conversation about symptoms, signs, facts, risks, and nature of the disease. Knowledge is key, and knowledge + action is power.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month “Go Pink” activities have helped raise lots of money for breast cancer research and there are still many questions to be answered. However, research has linked certain lifestyle choices to breast cancer risk and that’s what I’m going to focus on here. I used the American Cancer Society website (cancer.org) as the primary source, but found similar information on other sites such as komen.org, cancer.gov,  and cdc.gov.

pinkcoffee
Breast Cancer Awareness Month Promotions Abound

Lifestyle choices shown to lower risk:

  • Choose good food  – What’s does that mean? Generally speaking, good food is as close to its natural form as possible. Choose more vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and lean protein. And remember, just because a product is marketed as “Healthy”, doesn’t mean it is. I know. It can be complicated. Read food labels and if you need help making sense of it all, here are some tips to get started.
  • Exercise – Get on your feet and move. Walk, run, swim, skip, march in place, dance, clean a closet (that’s a workout at my house!), garden, bowl, etc. Exercise is great for your body and for your mind. Here are some ideas about how to get moving and how to stay consistent. You can do it! There are a ton of gadgets that can help. Most smart phones have a built in step tracker so you may already have one. Wearables are fitness trackers that track your activity and can even remind you to get up and move. General recommendations suggest getting 10,000 steps a day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – Without attempting to get into the medical terms, it’s got something to do with fat cells putting hormone levels out of whack. Hormone levels impact cancer risk, especially for post-menopausal women. Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight is not about looking cute, being skinny, media influence on what is sexy, or any of those other things. It’s about you, your health, and giving your amazing body a fighting chance.
  • Limit alcohol – Did you know that a serving of wine is only 4 – 5 ounces? That’s about half a cup. I know; it’s not much. Research shows that women who drink more than 1 serving of alcohol a day (men – 2 servings a day) have an increased risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer.

No guarantees

Of course, there are no guarantees that living a healthy lifestyle will prevent diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, but a healthy lifestyle may reduce your risk and increase your long-term quality of life.

Early detection of breast cancer improves survival rates. Talk to your doctor about screening guidelines, current research, genetic and family history risks, and the like. He or she will be the best resource to give you information based on your age, health, lifestyle factors, and family history.

A healthy lifestyle of eating nutritious food and exercising helps keep you strong in body, mind, and spirit. Take baby steps if you have to. Do what you can. Think about what you will gain instead of what you’re giving up. You’re worth it.

Do it for you and for the ones you love.

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Book Review – Life Reimagined The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife

I was browsing the books at a local book festival when I came across Babara Bradley Hagerty’s book released in March 2016 entitled Life Reimagined The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife.

Life Reimagined Cover published on strong-woman.com
Life Reimagined

Being in my early 50s and having some midlife awakenings of my own, the title intrigued me. Written as part memoir, part feature story, part scientific study, Hagerty focuses primarily on the mental, physical, social, and emotional experience of people at midlife and beyond. She interviews scientists who’ve studied aging and people who are maneuvering through the challenges of midlife.  The questions about this life-stage are numerous, but here’s a sample: Is there such a thing as a midlife crisis? What determines if a person will thrive at midlife and beyond or simply survive? Is Alzheimer’s preventable? What about dementia? How can one make the most out of this stage of life?

She addresses all that and so much more, including resiliency, purpose, “generativity”, attitude, midlife marriage and friendship, altruism, and work. In all of these areas, she interweaves her own experience, the experiences of others, and the research. This intermingling makes the text flow easily and never sounds like a news report or clinical research paper.

Older couple romantic published on strong-woman.com
Romance is important at any age.

One note about the content –

The book has many, many footnotes, nearly 60 pages of very small print. They often include elaborations that offer additional perspective on the subject being discussed. Even with those details in the footnotes, the book is 378 pages. Lengthy, but loaded with memorable stories, characters and conclusions about midlife and well worth the read.

Takeaways

I had lots of takeaways, but the most memorable one touches on a topic that I blog about regularly: exercise. Specifically, exercise and mental acuity.

In the section “How to Build a Younger Brain”, the author spoke to Kirk Erickson, researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, who found that brain training and other mental exercises “help people preserve their cognitive abilities” but when he started conducting exercise studies, “He realized that nothing will keep you as mentally acute as raising your heart rate a few times a week. Nothing.” Exercise is good for your brain, from preserving brain tissue to improving memory. (p. 203)

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“…nothing will keep you as mentally acute as raising your heart rate a few times a week. Nothing.”

Fork in the road

Midlife feels like a fork in a road, but at this fork, I feel a little more urgency. After all, I’m not getting any younger. What if I wind up in the weeds?

I liked Life Reimagined because it explores midlife from lots of angles and tells stories about what others have done, how it’s worked out for them, and what researchers have learned about how to continue to be happy and healthy for all your days.

Woman facing sunrise published on strong-woman.com
Consider the possibilities.

Bette Davis once said, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” In the end, it’s for each of us to decide our path and, by the Grace of God, live life to its fullest. Midlife is a good time to re-examine what that means.

Have you read any good books lately? Please share in the comments.

Picture downloaded from Pixabay and published on strong-woman.com

Somewhere Between Fat and Thin

On a recent 3-hour drive home from Galveston to San Antonio, I listened to an episode of “This American Life” hosted by Ira Glass in which he looks at a topic from lots of different angles and talks to people who are connected to the subject in various ways. The episode was entitled “Tell Me I’m Fat”.

Hmmm. The title intrigued me.

Picture downloaded from Pixabay and published on strong-woman.com
Somewhere between fat and thin
Being fat in America

The episode explores being a fat woman in America from 4 different perspectives. Their experiences were different, but they shared some common themes – judgment, discrimination, and shame. Each of the women told how they were subjected to negative comments, rude stares, judgmental conclusions that they had no self-control, got passed over for a job promotion, date, or group activity, and even one woman who, in the 80’s, attended a University with health standards and was not allowed to re-enroll for her fall semester because she missed her summer weight-loss goal by 4 pounds.

Each of these women also talked about the choices they made in dealing with the weight discrimination. The choices are to do nothing, to change themselves, or to change the minds of others.

The story got me thinking about what I believe about the subject of weight, weight loss, discrimination, and what motivates people to change or not.

It’s personal

For me, it used to be about being thin. I thought that if I could just lose weight all my problems would be solved. I tried lots of different diets and really wasn’t clear on what I wanted or why I wanted it.

Not anymore. Now, what I want is to be healthy, happy, and strong, especially as I get older. It’s no longer about being thin or fat and that’s why maintaining a healthy weight is important and worth the effort, not just for me but for my family. I want to do my best to stay well, active and mobile for as long as I live.

While I know what to do to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight, it’s still a struggle. Many times, but specially during holidays and vacations, I tend to choose food that I know isn’t the best for me. What’s the problem? I know what to do and I know what I want. The problem is between my ears. My mindset.

Mindset is the biggest factor when it comes to this issue “weight”. It doesn’t matter how much you know what you should be doing or what great tech devices you have to help you along the way, you have to have a mindset to make it a lifestyle. No more lose weight then gain it all back. Get mentally prepared.

Here are 3 things to do when you’re ready to make a change:
know-your-whyDecide what you really want and why you want it.

There’s more than being fat or being thin. A woman recently told me she wanted to get to a certain weight and I asked her why that number. She said she felt best years ago when she was at that weight – healthy, strong, and happy and carrying the extra 20 pounds she’s gained in the past few years makes that hard for her. So really, what she wants is to feel that way again. This type of reflection is the beginning of discovering your “why” – getting to the essence of why you want to make this long-lasting change.

 

happiness-quotes-4qPvfG-quote

Decide to be happy, no matter how much you weigh.

What most people want is to be happy and we pursuit happiness, as if it’s out there somewhere. I used to think, “If I could only be thin then I’ll be happy.” In the radio story, one woman decides to love herself as she is and doesn’t care what people think. She’s happy. Another woman decides to lose weight with a doctor’s help and she loses more than 100 pounds in less than a year and even though she’s thin and a lot of good things have come her way, she’s not happy.

Being thin doesn’t guarantee happiness and health, just like being fat doesn’t guarantee unhappiness and sickness. Choose happiness.

Love is the absence of judgement. Dalai Lama XIV
Show yourself some love.

Be kind to yourself and never beat yourself up about your weight and instead show yourself some love by being grateful for your body and all it does for you every day. It took me a while to get to this point. I think about my younger self and I wish I’d have shown myself more love back then. If I felt fat or some one else called me fat, I wasn’t strong enough to not be ashamed. Shame is personal and lingers. It’s a by-product of judgment and rejection. That only motivated me to find comfort in food.

You can transform yourself and your life when you shift your mindset toward away from shame, unhappiness, and finding comfort in food. Don’t let how much you weight keep you from living your best life. You can do it.

Is there more to it than being thin or fat? I’d love to hear what you think about the subject.